I like to imagine that I will someday find a soul-mate with whom I share a bond as strong as mac and cheese. Isn’t that the most we could ever want, a partner who compliments us so well that they actually make us better and stronger?
When people talk about their favorite couples, I don’t think of Brad and Angelina or Kim and Kanye (does anyone really think Kim and Kanye?); I think of mac and cheese. They’ve got a real love, one that’s unbreakable and incomparable. Never was there a pair better fit for each other or more admired. If I could find a man to be the mac to my cheese or the cheese to my mac, I would be one lucky girl. I suppose in this analogy, I’d be the mac and he would be the cheese because I’m a noodle head…pun 100% intended.
Today, I’d like to pay tribute to this great love with what I’m officially dubbing my best mac & cheese yet, and that’s saying a lot considering the slew of amazing mac & cheese recipes I’ve churned out in the past (see: Fried Mac & Cheese, David’s Ultimate 5-Cheese Mac & Cheese, and Nacho Mac & Cheese). This is the mac and cheese, the one to which any other mac you eat in your life will pale in comparison: Four-Cheese Sun-Dried Tomato Mac & Cheese.
If you don’t believe me, ask my taste-testers. Mother Cookie simply could not stop raving; she was blown away after her first bite and had no trouble christening it her favorite. Then, my best friend gave it a try, intending to only sample a forkful. But that one forkful quickly turned into a bowlful when she realized how amazing it was. She too said it was the best mac and cheese she’s had.
What makes this mac so sublime? Three things:
- The most luscious, perfect cheese sauce, or as Mother Cookie called it: “The creamiest stuff ever.”
- An impeccable blend of asiago, parmesan, romano, and mozzarella cheeses that creates a harmonic balance of cheesy flavor.
- The sun-dried tomatoes. These babies add unbelievable sweet and robust flavor that gives this mac something so special and takes it to the next level.
If there’s one mac you make in your life, it better be this one. The sauce is the smoothest, dreamiest stuff and perfectly abundant; no dried-out mac here. Plus, the flavors are so incredible that you better be prepared to eat way more than any one person should. It’s just that good.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- This mac is good enough to stand on its own, but it would also make a great meal with some roasted or grilled chicken.
- If you want some greens, spinach would be a lovely edition.
- I don’t recommend tampering with the cheeses I used; they really are the perfect blend. Give it a shot!
- Pretty much any pasta shape would work great with this.
- You have the option of preparing this early in the day then baking it later or making it right before you want to eat it and popping it in the oven to broil it and create that golden brown topping.
Sun-Dried Tomato Four-Cheese Mac & Cheese
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- 16 oz. cavatappi pasta, preferably whole grain
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 4 ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
- 1 cups shredded romano cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, plus 1cup more for topping
- 12 oz. sun-dried tomatoes + their oils (about ¾ cup)
- If you intend to eat the mac and cheese right away, preheat oven to broil.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water over high heat, cook the pasta until al dente, meaning it still has a bit of bite. Drain.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and sauté until translucent and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the flour until free of lumps then continue whisking another minute or so to cook out the flour taste. Immediately whisk in the cream, pouring slowly and whisking constantly until free of lumps. Cover and let simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Once thickened, stir in the salt and pepper then whisk in all the cheeses except for 1 cup of the mozzarella until completely melted. Taste test and decide if you’d like it cheesier; if so, feel free to whisk in more cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little more cream, ¼ cup at a time.
- Turn off heat and pour cooked pasta into the sauce, folding it in until well-coated. Fold in tomatoes until evenly distributed.Transfer to a baking dish sprayed with nonstick spray. If eating right away, sprinkle with remaining cheese and place in preheated oven to broil until golden brown and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it; broiling happens quickly. If you intend to eat later, cover until ready to cook then preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until hot in the center, about 30 minutes, sprinkling remaining cheese on in the last ten minutes. Let sit for 2 minutes then enjoy!